24 Jul Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Taste The Estate Food and Wine Pairing Experience at Trefethen
A visit to wine country these days is about experiences and I cannot stop thinking about the experience I had at Trefethen Winery in Napa. My visit to the beautiful property included the “Taste The Estate” tasting, featuring estate-grown ingredients paired with the wines of Trefethen. Each bite was so fresh and tasty but also paired so exceptionally well, the Taste The Estate food and wine pairing experience at Trefethen is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Located in the heart of the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Trefethen Family Vineyards is a historic winery that was first built-in 1886 and was purchased by the Trefethen family in 1968. The 19th century, wooden, gravity-flow winery is the only one of its kind surviving in Napa County and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. The historic winery is surrounded by Main Ranch which is 400 acres of vines planted in 49 distinct blocks. Sitting on the largest alluvial fan in Napa Valley, more than twenty different soil types have been identified. On these soils, the Trefethens grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and even Pinot Noir.
Steps away from the winery is The Villa and La Huerta. The Villa, an historic Craftsman house, was formerly the home of Eugene and Catherine Trefethen. The Villa is now used to host wine and food tastings. Next to The Villa is La Huerta, the vegetable garden, where more than 100 edible varieties are grown, producing over 17,000 pounds of produce each year.
The produce grown at La Huerta is enjoyed by Trefethen employees and their families. It is also used to provide the raw ingredients for Chef Chris Kennedy’s “Taste the Estate” food pairings.
We sat down at our table on the patio. I was impressed by the personalized menus. It is always a lovely touch when wineries put the guest’s name on the menu but in this case, both of our menus were individually personalized. It is the little details like this that leave a lasting impression.
The Taste The Estate menu included five wines from Trefethen. The 2020 Dry Riesling ($26) was the first wine and I was so excited as I remember first falling in love with this wine a few years ago because of the floral and citrus nose and the crisp, high acid finish. The 2019 Katie’s Acre Chardonnay ($50) with citrus and tropical fruit flavors and bright acidity comes from the vines planted around a giant old walnut tree that Katie (Catherine Trefethen), the matriarch of the family, insisted remain standing.
The 2017 Cowgirl and the Pilot ($90) is a gorgeous Merlot with dark fruit and floral notes that honors the love story of second-generation John Trefethen, a former Navy pilot, and his wife Janet, a former California rodeo queen. The 2018 Dragon’s Tooth ($65) is a blend of 49% Malbec, 27% Petit Verdot, and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon and has notes of fig, tobacco, and blackberry. This wine’s label honors the Welsh roots of Catherine Trefethen. The 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($115) has layers of cherry, black fruit, and cacao and a rich mouthfeel.
After tasting through the wines, we enjoyed each wine paired with a special bite.
The Dry Riesling was paired with Garam Masala Spice Mt Lassen Pink Trout with Creamy Tzatziki and Cilantro cracker. While the milk was not sourced on the property, it was made into yogurt onsite and the other ingredients of the tzatziki, as well as the cilantro, were all from the Trefethen property. The earthiness of the Indian spices, the creaminess of the tzatziki, the freshness of the cucumber, and the fattiness of the trout were a perfect combination but when the Riesling was added, it was magical.
The Katie’s Acre Chardonnay was paired with Chilled Summer Melon Soup with Tarragon Goat Cheese, Sunflower, and Compressed Melon and every ingredient in this dish, except the goat cheese, was from the property. The melon soup was delicate and light with a touch of fresh sweetness, the goat cheese added a creamy tartness, and the sunflower seeds added earthiness to the dish. The roundness of the Chardonnay balanced the light sweetness of the melon soup and the acidity of the wine cut through the cheese and nuts.
The Cowgirl and the Pilot Merlot was paired with Hen of the Wood Mushrooms with Roast White Corn Cakes and Smoked Creme Fraiche. The white corn, which came from the gardens, was sweet, the mushroom was earthy and the creme fraiche was smoked just enough to harmonize with the earthiness of the dish. Paired with the wine, earthy notes in the dark fruit and floral wine came out.
The Malbec-based Dragon’s Tooth was paired with Roasted Eggplant and Cherry Tomato Tartine with Toasted Garlic and Garden Herbs. Every vegetable and herb in this dish was from the Trefethen garden. The roasted Mediterranean flavors of the tartine brought out the spiciness of the Malbec. The wine and food paired together like a glove on a hand.
The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was paired with a Carne Asada Tostada with Charred Tomatillo and Wild Arugula Salsa and Black Pepper Crema. The spicy arugula and tomatillo were sourced from the garden and the bite, with the wine, was synergistic.
Each dish was so thoughtfully and creatively prepared by Chef Kennedy to pair with the Trefethen wines. The Taste The Estate at the Villa experience is by appointment only and costs $100 ($80 for wine club members). The Taste of the Estate experience is a garden-to-table experience that you will not forget. I would chalk this up to be an experience of perfect pairings!